For The Hellp, Obsession Is The Only Key To Greatness
The Los Angeles-based synth-punk duo is carving out a new sound, and a new style. How do they do it? Sacrifice, devotion, and a special cultural cache.
The Clutch is a column catering to the major cultural moments in the present day. Pack your bags and hold onto your purse because we’ll be out all day.
I could listen to Noah Dillon scream into an echo-distorted mic for the rest of my life. The Hellp, a Los Angeles-based synth-punk duo consisting of Noah P. Dillion and Chandler Lucy, became a crucial obsession of mine when I first encountered them online in 2021. Their unique vibration of outlandish stuttered vocals and manipulated drum and bass creates a sonic language unlike any other in the industry. Clad in tight leather jackets and skinny jeans, they make music that transports you to another realm that I could only describe as the future. With one album out, an EP, and their new lead single, “California Dream Girl,” they are on track to release new work in the new year.
The duo met through a mutual friend while Chandler was working in construction. After enough persuasion, Noah convinced Chandler to leave his job and join the band. “Cultural impact is worth the sacrifice – we've put our lives, spirit, health, time, and money into this. It's more significant than being a neurosurgeon.” Even though the band wrestles with self-doubt, they navigate the music space with a profound understanding of their strengths and purpose. The boys have conflicting emotions towards their craft, but they serve as a poignant message for anyone aspiring to push culture forward. Genuinely, they both love and question the very essence of their music.
For Noah, every moment matters. He obsesses, but not without significance — from the theory behind his love affair with Joe & the Juice to contemplations on mortality, there’s reason, logic, and greater meaning. “True obsession and the willingness to die for something is what I look for nowadays,” says Noah. “Many claim to live a certain lifestyle, but few are genuinely devoted. Everyone may want to die, but they lack the courage to take the step themselves; instead, they're just waiting for life to happen.” Noah and Chandler’s commitment to existential dread effectively undermines the digital footprint of the contemporary major-label artist.
The Hellp is a way of life, a thought process, and an alignment with one's identity. It goes beyond a mere auditory experience; it's an invitation to embrace who you really are. They transcend the conventional boundaries, befriending even those who might be considered adversaries. “We're doing what we do because if this band existed in the 2000s, we'd be nothing," Noah says. They are laying the groundwork for new soundscapes and modes of expression. When asked about the worst part of creating their art, they replied, “Every single part of it.” Noah dives into the process by stating, “The only good part is when you get a flicker or a fragment of a good idea.”
This is all to say they’re confident in what they do. When asked, “What is The Hellp freaking out about?” crickets Nothing... Chandler tangents on how doing a mix on a demo can feel like you’ve built a great world, yet, "When you need to turn it into a song, it is the most vile.” Besides the tiny moments of positivity the public sees on Spotify, music seems to be a very downhill act, or at least a brutal one. Their commitment to perfectionism has temporarily delayed the release of their second single, "Feeling Colorado," a track featured on the yet-to-be-named forthcoming album, now anticipated for a 2024 release.
Their chokehold might have something to do with the fact that they understand cultural cache like nobody else. When I asked them Fuck, Marry, Kill: Kamala Harris, The Pinkity Drink from Starbucks, or Tyrone Dylan, Noah’s answer was: “Killing Kamala, marrying the Pink Drink, and well, you know, with Tyrone Dylan.” Chandler agreed, noting that while Tyrone Dylan is too hot to pass up, the PinkDrink is certainly till death do us part.
The band’s current fashion 411 is in honor of uniformity. I needed to know what they’d been wearing even though they could count the number of clothing items they owned with just two hands. I asked, “Rick Owens or Celine”? They both reply confidently, “Rick Owens, the new Celine has fallen off.” Beyond their consistent attire of snug leather jackets and skinny jeans worn during performances, I inquired about their off-stage wardrobe. They chime in unison, “That’s all we wear.” In his tight Rick Owens leather jacket and jeans, Chandler lounges on Instagram Live smoking cigarettes while teaching his fans how to cook a steak and nodding on about how Joe Biden and butter are fake.
Thanks to the never-ending doom scroll of social media's explore page, we've witnessed the demise of uniformity as the e-commerce landscape engulfs artists attempting to make a statement. Instead of chasing the latest exclusive footwear, you'll find them consistently rocking worn-out 'should-be-white' Eric Payne sneakers. During our conversation, the guys and I discussed the surge of influencers attending events, masquerading as passionate fashion enthusiasts while actually seeking relevance and a boost to their egos.
In light of the current state of influencers at fashion week shows, Noah detours into his dismay over how egotistical, self-centered, and fame-focused the scene has become. His blunt commentary echoes, "Everyone thinks they're somebody – nice outfit, go home." Kanye West’s attendance at the show had every lowlife in a craze. Noah redirects the focus to Mowalola, emphasizing that the show should always highlight the talented designer's message conveyed through the presentation of clothes. Chandler, in turn, expresses his admiration for runway shows, acknowledging the immense effort designers invest for just a mere 15 minutes. The oversaturation of influencer marketing and the pervasive use of buzzwords like "content" and "fame" have distorted our understanding of artistry and how we engage with it. We’re definitely at sea, and nothing is on the horizon.
Noah asserts that the era of merely turning a look is over. “You can’t pull a look now. The looks are for the girls and the gays – the gays are fucking it up and the girls don’t know up from down anymore due to overconsumption of media." Standing out requires to be oneself, as Noah declares, "If you're a straight guy, wear the same color and shut the fuck up." This post-internet mindset is the key to success, countering the pervasive lack of individuality evident in today's fashion landscape, where everything appears to be a regurgitated iteration of a marketing budget.
The riveting music collective filled with a fanbase who is screaming out for individuality is the one to be watched. Being The Hellp comes with immense pressure, but past online show attendees have emphatically remarked, "I haven't seen a single ugly person at The Hellp show." Moshpits filled with hot people? Things could be worse. They carved a scene out for themselves and for that – I clap.